Cleat Geeks

On The Bump or In The Dump

Welcoming to 2018’s first edition of “On The Bump or In The Dump”! (Cue the dancing bears, cracker jacks and pop up band theme song).

This is the article that discusses the magical art of pitching. Last year’s edition we had Berrios, Severino, Sonny Gray and Brad Hand on. Then we trashed Wade Miley and he fell apart.

Hopefully you got on that Severino and Brad Hand train as they both worked some magic!

But on to 2018. 2017 is gone. In the garbage. Severino ain’t cheap and Hand is now a closer so you won’t be seeing either as an inexpensive option. So let’s take a look at what’s now and helpful.

On The Bump

Shohei Ohtani– As Christopher Walken would say “I got a fevor. And the only prescription, is more Ohtani.” Ohtani has lit the baseball world on fire, and I’m buying – for the most part. The stuff is real. There’s no denying it. He tosses 100 mph regularly and his off-speed is just filthy. I set him at #3 on my dynasty watch list last year and it’s looking like the only thing I might have gotten wrong was spelling his name (cringe, sorry Ohtani). I fully expect his talent to be there all year though. Some are skeptical because he wasn’t particularly good in spring training. What we saw in spring training is a number of things. He could have been working on stuff which many pitchers do. That’s why we always say “ignore spring training stats.” But I think another issue, and probably the larger part, was using a different baseball.

Image result for shohei ohtani angels

Photo by;

In Japan, their baseballs are smaller than ours. During spring training a lot of Ohtani’s issues were due to command. In Japan, he didn’t struggle with command which is what made that so odd. It’s also why I assumed he’d eventually adjust and be a solid pitcher. So far, that’s looking to be paying off. The only question mark is health. Being a two-way player is a lot to ask, particularly for a guy who throws so hard, so the reality is that with Ohtani, you’re rolling the dice. He throws a splitter that can be very hard on a young pitcher’s ligaments, particularly since he’s not used to 200 innings (Japan is closer to 160 per season). I’m going to say what I said about J.D. Martinez last year. I believe in the skills but I don’t trust the health. So milk the value early but, particularly if you’re playing in a head to head league where playoffs count, don’t be afraid to sell later in the season closer to July or August. That being said, Ohtani is still only 23 years old, so a full season is not out of the question. The track record for starting pitchers who throw 100 is not good though, so enjoy Ohtani for awhile. If someone is selling him cheap, buy. But after a couple months of what will probably be some very good stats, I’d be looking to sell if I can get some good value for him.

Image result for gerrit cole astros

Photo by; Zimbio

Gerrit Cole– Cole has been quite good thus far. I believe I’d be safe to say the best start to a season he’s ever had. But I’ve been hearing some analysts caution Cole… whispering *sell high*… *He can’t be this good*… *He’s probably made some strides but this is too much*… *squeeze-its are an underrated kids juice drink that were destroyed by the Freemasons*… Well, I’m here to say don’t listen to those voices. He won’t return to Earth – err not enough that I’d sell at least. Cole has been with the Pirates for his entire career and it’s always been assumed that the pirates have a great pitching coach, so he couldn’t possibly be learning anything new with his new club, the Astros. Well, Houston also has a pretty good set of pitchers, and I’d be willing to bet he’s gaining some new insights. One particular subject up for dissection is his fastball. He used to rely on it more as it can blow by many hitters. The problem is it’s a fairly straight pitch. Now, further into his career, he’s developed his off-speed stuff more and it can get outs. When a pitcher has multiple pitches it makes that hitter off balance and guessing which, is important for that heater as they can’t guess fastball as much. Plus, let’s not forget who also had a resurgence last year. Justin Verlander. What kind of pitcher was Verlander when he was younger? A hard throwing fastball tosser who relied on his hard stuff. He’d retooled himself in Detroit, but since going to Houston he’s become… well otherworldly again. I’m sure some of what works for Verlander may just be helping out a hard throwing Cole.

In The Dump

Image result for joey lucchesi padres

Photo by; San Diego Union Tribune

Joey Lucchesi- Lucchesi is an interesting pitcher as he’s got a nice little curve/change thinga-ma-jig (that’s the technical name) that is confusing players all over the place. The only thing is his fastball, which isn’t particularly good. For that reason, hitters are liable to sit fastball and let it fly when they get it rather than chase the off speed stuff. He’s having some success now but if you can sell for a legit pitcher or a decent bat, I’d do it. You might be able to sell the Petco Park aspects, but long term, I wouldn’t bet on him.

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